Overhead Lighting – You Need a Plan

If you’ve ever built a home, you know that choosing overhead lighting from scratch can be a tricky thing. So many options, so many styles!

overhead lighting plan

 

Your overhead lighting needs to work well together, but you don’t want a matchy-matchy lighting that look like it came in a boxed set from Home Depot. And what if you have an open floorplan? You want interesting fixtures with personality, but you don’t want them to look hodge-podge, right?

Perhaps I can help:

1. Start with choosing the most important or dominant light fixture/fixtures.

In this open-concept new build I recently worked on, the kitchen is the centerpiece of the home. So the pendants over the island were the most important choice to the homeowners. A pair of oversized pendants is a more current look than three smaller ones, so that’s what I recommended. They fell for these blown glass and iron pendants, which are perfect for this modern farmhouse kitchen.

island pendant lighting

Melanie G Photography

2. Vary the next fixture, but repeat the shape and finish of the first.

After that initial choice was made, we had to decide what overhead lighting should be the focal point of the adjoining living space. This iron and wood orb fixture works – do you know why? The fixture repeats the shape (round) and the finish (iron) of the island pendants are rounded and have an iron finish, and the wood banding echoes the wood beams and other wood finishes in the space.

modern farmhouse interior

Melanie G Photography

3. Choose a different style fixture while maintaining either the finish or the lines of the previous ones.

Next, we turned our attention to the dining space. I suggested we look for a candelabra-style overhead fixture for above the table for variety. This fixture is both wood and iron, and the arms are curved (rounded).

blue kitchen

Melanie G Photography

4. Maintain a sense of scale throughout your overhead lighting scheme.

Since the island pendants were oversized, this overhead lighting in the dining area also needed to be oversized or else the scale would be off. You don’t want your fixture to be wider than the table beneath it. Any larger and this fixture would be too large, but because it’s airy it doesn’t come across as too heavy for this area.

farmhouse kitchen

Melanie G Photography

5. Repeat rounded forms, including orbs and drum shapes.

Next, there is a music-slash-tv room that is visible from the kitchen and living area. I chose a drum-shaped iron frame fixture with a small candelabra piece in the center. The fixture is rounded, iron, and repeats the candlelight of both the dining and living room overhead fixtures. Each fixture is quite different, but there is a common thread that keeps the lighting plan cohesive.

taxidermy decor

Melanie G Photography

6. Throw in an oddball, but maintain the shape or finish.

And finally, I picked a smaller galvanized fixture for the entry. It looks like an artisan piece, and it sets the vibe for the entire house.

farmhouse lodge entry

Melanie G Photography

7. Don’t forget the lamps!

Did you think I forgot about lamps? After the overhead lighting is determined, I am mindful of the lamps that will populate the space. This pair of lamps sport orb bases that echo the living room fixture, but we softened up the look by choosing a gold finish and light shades.

barn door living room

wall color – Ben Moore Hazy Skies, all photography – Melanie G Photography

Do you see how the light fixtures are tied together in differing ways, but are different enough to be interesting? Was this helpful?

I got to explain this a bit more with Meryll Rose on Nashville’s Talk of the Town! Check it out here: https://youtu.be/1d6bJ24MA8A

 

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Holly Taylor
4 years ago

I loved the article! Very informative and your work beautiful!

Cherie
Cherie
4 years ago

What helpful advice! It took me years and years to learn what you have said in this blog, and I learned it only by trial and error. You are wise, Kristie!

Laura
Laura
4 years ago

Besides the lighting fixtures, which I love, I also like that antler mounts were tastefully incorporated into the decor. I make my husband keep his in the basement for fear of them taking over the house and looking “campy.” What is the main paint color?

Brenda
Brenda
4 years ago

What a timely, informative article! Thank you, as we are getting ready to build a home. A first-time experience for us. Can you share your sources of light fixtures, or recommend good on-line resources
Thank you, Kristie
Brenda

jeannie casey
jeannie casey
4 years ago

This came right in time ! we choose the large ballard’s design Orb for the hall downstairs but upstairs in hall entry I’m not
loving the other light and its gives off a yellow glow. so I will use your suggestions.

Martell Souder
4 years ago

This is so enlightening in understanding the structure of room style. I never thought about repeating something in each fixture. Thanks.

Ann
Ann
4 years ago

I’m late making a comment. This was so helpful. I have a question that was not addressed. How do ceiling fans factor in? I live in Florida where most areas in my home have ceiling fans but I have some light fixtures. The only fans with high output that I could afford had an oil rubbed bronze finish. I was hoping to buy black light fixtures but now I’m wondering if I’m locked into the oil rubbed bronze now that I’ve replaced several fans.

Amy Monroe
Amy Monroe
4 years ago

Kristie, Once again thank you for this timely and pertinent article. Lighting selection – style and size – is rarely addressed in decorating articles and blogs. Your insights and suggestions are very helpful! Thank you!

Brenda
Brenda
4 years ago

Hi Kristie, I have one more question. Is there a rule/formula you use in determining how much wattage is needed per sq footage of each room/space? Thanks for your expertise and enjoyable blog,
Brenda

Perry Smith
Perry Smith
4 years ago

lovely spaces. I’m trying to track down the blown glass and iron pendants here in southern California. As you suggested, I’d really like to see them in person but if that is not possible, are you able to share the manufacturer and the pendant name? Thank you for any information.

trackback

[…] I was going to do. Then the wonderful Kristie Barnett, aka “The Decorologist,” wrote a fantastic post about just this topic back in August, and it so simply lays out all that had been going on in my […]

Amy, Home Glow Design
4 years ago

Hi Kristie! I tagged this post as soon as I read it. You so clearly lay out the “how-tos” of interesting fixed lighting features that also make sense visually. I actually used your advice (and referred readers back to you) as a roadmap for my own lighting scheme for my foyer/stairs/second floor landing for my One Room Challenge this fall. Thought you might enjoy how someone else employed your tactics. 😉

http://homeglowdesign.com/2016/10/20/lighting-flow-without-boring/

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